- Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima Warns Against Imposition
Senator Aliyu Ndume, Chairman Senate Committee on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and representative of Borno South in National Assembly on Wednesday in an interview with journalists formally declared his intention to vie for the office of the Senate Presidency.
In the interview, Senator Ndume said his people called on him to contest for the exalted seat in view of the alleged marginalization and critical condition of the North East.
He said North East Geo-Political Zone remains the poorest region on earth based on United Nations Human Development Indices.
Senator Ndume said they want the All Progressive Congress (APC) zone the office of the Senate Presidency to the North East because “In this political dispensation, the zone is the most marginalized, most traumatized and devastated due to the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents.”
Ndume said the North-East really performed well in the last election by producing the second largest votes in the presidential election.
According to him, being very close to the seat of power will undoubtedly address some of the problems facing the North East.
The 8th National Assembly will be inaugurated on June 2, 2015. However, the new principal officers particularly Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives will emerge before the inauguration.Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima in an interview with journalists has also warned APC party leadership to be careful in the way it will zone the political position particularly the office of the Senate President and that of the Speaker of the House of Representatives as improper zoning of the offices will throw the party into serious crisis.
This warning came as result of the struggle for the exalted seats in the National Assembly.It was also observed that apart from one Senate Presidential aspirants, the rest of other senators in the race have sponsor and god-father. Pundits argued that god-fatherism will no doubt destroy the change Nigerians are yearning for. It will also stand against the anti-corruption crusade of Gen. Buhari.
The battle for the Senate Presidency is mainly between the North Central and North East Geo-Political Zones. While the North Central where the out-going Senate President David Mark is demanding to produce the next Senate President of the 8th National Assembly on the ground of their contribution to the success of APC during the last general election; their counterpart in the North East is also saying the office should be zoned to their region because of their contribution during the elections as well as peculiar and sympathetic condition of their zone.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) is yet to officially announce the zoning arrangement of the principal officers of the 8th National Assembly which will be inaugurated very soon, however there are indications that the party may zone the office of the Senate President to the North East after considering several factors.
In response to earlier speculation that the APC has zoned the office of the Senate President to the North Central Geo-Political Zone, the party in a statement issued in Abuja recently said there is no truth to anything that has been dished out anywhere, concerning the issues of appointment, especially the zoning of the National Assembly’s principal positions and other offices.
APC National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed in the statement said that in the true tradition of the APC, all issues of public interest will be handled transparently and conveyed to Nigerians through the usual communication channels.
“No appointments have been made and no offices have been zoned. The main concern of our party at the moment is to ensure a smooth transition and to hit the ground running, in the overall interest of the long-suffering people of Nigeria.
“At the appropriate time, Nigerians will be informed of the appointments made and the offices zoned,” APC said. Factors that favour North East Geo-Political Zone
Though the North Central Geo-Political Zone is pushing for the Senate Presidency on the ground of their contribution towards the success of the party in the last general election, they are many factors that favour North East Zone in the race for Senate Presidency. The top contenders in the North Central are Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume (Benue State) and Senate Committee Chairman on Environment and Ecology, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
While Akume served as Governor of Benue State between 1999-2007 his counterpart in Kwara State also served as Governor between 2003-2011. Both of them won election to the Senate after completing their second term as governors.
In the North East, Senator Aliyu Ndume, Chairman, Senate Committee on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Senator Ahmed Lawan, Chairman Senate Committee on Public Account and former Governor of Gombe State (2003-2011), Senator Danjuma Goje who is the Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream are leading the race.
Analysts and political commentators will quite agree that APC will do itself enough favour by zoning the office of the Senate Presidency to the North East in view of the following factors:
Adverse effect of insurgency: One of the factors that APC leadership may consider in favour of the North East is that the zone is the most devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency and one of the poorest region on earth according to the United Nations Report. The UN assessment is based on access to water, education, electricity, healthcare service, infrastructure etc. Boko Haram activities in the three North East States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa had led to the death of thousands of people while millions were displaced. About 15 local government areas from the three states mostly from Borno were captured by the Boko Haram sect
Unlike the North Central which has produced the Senate President including Senator David Mark who is completing his eight years as Senate President, the North East has never produced President of Nigeria and Senate President.
Except Lagos State, Yobe and Borno are the only states in Nigeria that have been in opposition party since 1979. In 1979, NPN was the ruling government at the centre while Lagos was controlled by UPN; Yobe and Borno were being controlled by GNPP.
Those from the North East are also of the view that if justice and fairness is to prevail, now that opposition party takes over the national government, North East particularly Yobe and Borno should be compensated. This also agrees with the saying that “a patient dog eats the fattest bone”
In the presidential election, North East produced the largest results next to North West where President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari hails from. North East also produced 13 senators in the March 28 parliamentary election and took over Bauchi and Adamawa from PDP.
Apart from the pending corruption cases against the former governors in the race, pundits argued that the level of struggle for the office of the Senate President by Senator George Akume representing Benue North West and Bukola Sarki, Kwara Central Senatorial District, may bring uneasiness to the Senate and subsequently lead to big crisis in the party if any of them emerges as the Senate President. The argument was that there is no indication that any of the contenders is willing to step down for each other and if the party forces any of them to step down, it will bring about disharmony between the duo which may be difficult to be settled.
Contrary to what is on-going in the North Central there are indications that North East National Assembly (Senators) Caucus had already agreed to produce one person if the party officially zone the office of the Senate President to the North East Zone. This was made clear recently where the forum chaired by Senator Danjuma Goje said the zone is appealing to the party to zone the office of the Senate President to North East because of their peculiar circumstance.
The forum also distanced itself from the purported endorsement of Senator Ahmed Lawan by other caucus stressing that no other caucus can select who will emerge as Senate President if APC eventually zone it to the North East.
” We resolved to call the leadership of our party to formally zone the highest office of the National Assembly to our zone in view of our special circumstance.
“This caucus should be allowed in consultation with the party leadership, other caucuses, zonal leaders, other stakeholders to nominate the senator suitable to occupy such an office which is zoned to our zone.
“For this reason, the caucus urges the public and distinguished colleagues nationwide and indeed, everybody, Nigerians and non-Nigerians to completely disregard any purported endorsement of any Senator from the North East by any zone because zoning of posts by APC has not been formally done yet.
“We are waiting for our formal zoning of the various posts of the national assembly before we commence nomination and we believe that any post zoned to us must have our input as the caucus and then, we consult with other caucuses, party leadership and indeed, other stakeholders before arriving at a decision.
“We should completely disregard any endorsement of any of our member here or absent. We do not know anything about it, we do not support it, we disassociate ourselves completely from it.” Goje said.
Senator Goje reiterated that the caucus was not in support of any other caucus adopting or endorsing any senator from the North east for the Senate Presidency.
Why Ali Ndume is leading the race
In the race for the Senate Presidency, Senator Ali Ndume seems to be the only one without a sponsor, god-father and one of the least in terms of riches. However, based on observations, if APC eventually zones the position to the North East, Ndume will likely emerge as the Senate President of the 8th National Assembly because of some of the factors which favour him.
One of the factors that will favour Ndume if APC eventually zones the Senate Presidency to the North East is that the battle for the race in the region has almost been pruned down to Yobe and Borno State. During the APC convention where the party national leaders emerged, Yobe is given the position of National Secretary of the party. The position was then zoned to the North East, particularly, Yobe and Borno States. Borno had to give up in order to allow a Yobe indigene occupy the position. Now that the battle is almost between Yobe and Borno again, it is the turn of Yobe to give up in order to allow Borno produce the next Senate President. There is a political calculation that North East will produce Senate President, APC National Secretary and BoT Chairman
Both Senator Lawan and Senator Goje had severed at various capacity as leaders and deserve to become Senate President. They are also eligible to become Senate President, but one of the common traits of the duo which pundits argued will put Ndume ahead, is the allegation that they are very aggressive. The pundit argued that the office of the Senate President is too sensitive and should be left in the hand of person that is always composed and calmed even in the troublous time. This was evident during Ndume’s trial and when he was the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.
The pundits maintained that Senator David Mark made history as the longest serving Senate President in Nigeria because of his humility, patriotism and pragmatism. They also argued that he succeeded because he is a negotiator, strategist and diplomat and not necessarily being aggressive on national issues. They also see Senator Ndume as pro-masses senator. This also becomes very obvious as several returning senators across the six geo-political zones have started trooping to his office to declare their support for him since his recent interview where he affirmed that he is vying for the office of the Senate President. His humility, acceptability, patriotism, diplomacy and pragmatism also came to play when he was the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives. In the press interview recently, Ndume said if he emerges victorious in the race, he will not be a “Senators President” but “Senate President” indicating he will be a presiding officer and not lord of the senators.
Apart from personal characteristics which put Senator Ndume in vantage position it was observed that Ndume has a good relationship with a strong man of Yoruba politics, Senator Ahmed Tinubu. Senator Ndume is also being admired by President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari because of his acceptability in both National Assembly and his zone, North East.
Though insurgency left un-reparable damages in the three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamwa; Borno State seems to be the worst hit by Boko Haram deadly activities. Most of the local government areas captured by the insurgents are from Borno State. Senator Ndume was among the victims of insurgents who voted at the IDPs camp during the last election. He hails from Gwosa LG which was recently recaptured from the insurgents by Nigerian Military.
Senator Aliyu Ndume’s travail, trial and vindication
Senator Aliyu Ndume though born of a Christian mother and Muslim father had some common things with Joseph in the Holy Book in respect of dream, travails, vindication and elevation.
Joseph’s brethren in the Holy Book decided to terminate his life because of his dream which showed that he was going to be a great man in the future. However, because of God’s intervention the plan of his brethren was dwarfed though he suffered so many things including false accusation, imprisonment, he was later elevated to the position of prime minister in Egypt.
An attempt to clip the wings of Ndume by the one time strong man of Borno Politics, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff who served as governor for eight years, Ndume was pushed into trouble possibly to stop him, from flying higher in the Nigerian politics.
In today’s politics several people still use hate campaigns in order to run down their opponents. This was evident in the last general election where Gen. Muhammad Buhari won presidential election despite the hate campaigns. He was tagged as “Boko Haram sponsor”, “anti-Christ” among other things. But the truth of the whole thing lies with God.
The plan to stop Ndume from going further in politics became matured in 2010 when Ali Mudu Sherif (an alleged sponsor of Boko Haram who was never being tried in any court) tried to stop Ndume from contesting the 2011 parliamentary election under the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) the then ruling party in the state. This plan failed as Ndume crossover to PDP and eventually defeated the ANPP senatorial candidate in the 2011 election. With the emergence of Ndume as Senator representing Borno South Senatorial District, another plan was hatched by his enemies leading to his linkage with the dreaded Boko Haram sect. The Boko Haram operations had left thousands of people dead and rendered millions of people homeless. During the last general election in March 28 and April11, 2015 Ndume was among those who voted at IDPs camp in Maiduguri because his local government, Gwosa was one of the LGs taken over by Boko Haram insurgents.
Mohammed Aliyu Ndume was born in1959-11-20 in Gwoza Local Government Area, Borno State. He attended Kaduna Polytechnic and then the University of Toledo, USA, where he gained a Masters Degree in Accounting and Computer. He became a Senior Lecturer in Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri, Borno State until 2003, when he entered politics
Ndume was elected to represent Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency in April 2003 and was reelected in April 2007, on the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) platform. He was appointed Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, 2007-211. His record then showed that he performed well.
In December 2010 Ndume decamped to the PDP, citing the injustices going on in the party as his reason for leaving the ANPP. He said the people from the grassroots of Southern Borno were solidly behind him. He said that he was not being given a level playing ground in the competition with other ANPP aspirants for candidature in the Senate election. Apparently he had fallen out with Governor Ali Modu Sheriff Ndume’s defection to the PDP was seen as a major blow to the ANPP. He was said to have been the major financer of ANPP in the Borno-South senatorial zone, and was considered one of the most dynamic of the lawmakers from the North East zone.
Following Ndume’s defection, the PDP re-opened the sale of nomination forms. Alhaji Sanda Garba, who had been the only aspirant for the Borno South Senate seat, stepped down to make way for Ndume as the PDP candidate. In the election, Ndume won 146,403 votes, ahead of Dr. Asaba Vilita Bashir of the ANPP with 133,734 votes and Alhaji Unaru Ibrahim of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) with 20,414 votes.
Ndume was appointed to a committee established by the out-going President Goodluck Jonathan to consider opening talks with Boko Haram . it is in the course of this service he was arrested on alleged link to Boko Haram in November 2011.
Ndume political enemies thought linking him with the dreaded Boko Haram will lead him to political oblivion but as the truth unfolds in respect of those behind the emergence and sponsorship of Boko Haram, Ndume was not only vindicated but was also elevated. Apart from Ndume’s vindication at Appeal Court in Abuja over linkage with the sect, his people mainly Christians in Southern Borno also vindicated him by massively casting their vote for him during the March 28 parliamentary election.
Ali Sheriff, an alleged sponsor of Boko Haram and friend of the out-going President Jonathan was rejected by Borno people during the 2015 general election. All those associated with Ali Sheriff in the last elections lost including President Jonathan.
During the Senatorial election, Ndume of APC scored 150,000 votes to defeat Nicolus Mshelizah of PDP who got 20,000 votes. Even in Hawul LG where Nicolus hails from, Ndume got 24,000 votes against 3000 votes of Nicolus. Inhabitants of Hawul LG are mainly Christians. Nicolus is also a Christian but he lost to Ndume.
In Chibok LG, Ndume got 8,500 votes against Dr. Bitrus Pogu of SDP who scored 6000 votes. Bitrus is a Christian and from Chibok LG. Chibok is made up of 95% Christians.
Pundits argued that Ndume has been absolved of all allegations bothering on linkage with Boko Haram based on the way they voted for him. They also agreed that trap of Biblical Hamaan set for Modecai eventually caught up with Hamaan.
The allegation that Ali Sheriff met with President-elect, Buhai secretly crying profusely begging to return to APC indicates his (Sheriff) pilgrimage to political oblivion. Ali Sheriff was rejected in general election and his friend, incumbent President Jonathan was also defeated in the presidential election.
If Ndume emerges victorious in the race for Senate Presidency, he will then join the list of African leaders who passed through travails before their ascension to the throne. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and lat Nelson Mandella came out from prison to become President of their respective countries.